It’s been over six months since I last wrote one of my more personal posts on this blog; perhaps the longest I’ve gone since I first moved down under. And while it’s something I’ve been meaning to remedy for a while, with the world in the almost constant state of chaos and flux that it’s been in of late, I’ve been met with a hopeless of writer’s block every time I’ve attempted to sit down and put pen to paper; unsure of where to start, what on earth I want to say, or indeed where I’ll finish.
I was culling a series of photos on my phone the other day. In almost five years of coastal walks, I’ve managed to amass many thousands of photos of almost the exact same scenes on an almost daily basis – of the beiges and blues of the beach; of light creeping over the horizon, smudging the sky pink; the water sparkling and iridescent, bathed in the early morning sun. Yet unlike the piercing blue skies and topaz waters that are seen as a birthright for Australians and expats alike, the photos are foggy; the horizon blurred; the sky a fine, pale yellow, the sun a deep and ominous orange, the sea a sooty grey, littered with ash. The deadly bushfires that gripped Australia at the beginning of the year – which ravaged many thousands of hectares of land, which lost livelihoods and lives and left death, destruction and devastation in their wake – felt like a living nightmare at the time. We moved from dread to disbelief as we dealt with daily reminders of the thousands upon thousands of animals burning to death; as we witnessed our city blanketed with a toxic and deadly haze; and we got used to the the incessant smell of fire and smoke that seem impossible to banish.
After what felt like a lifetime of fires, at last, the rain came. I remember the first scattering of showers in Bondi with such clarity, I can still smell the wet pavement as I walked home from my friend Lauren’s. I cried with relief, and the streets of Bondi filled with the sound of laughter and cheer as we rejoiced in what we thought was the beginning of the end of what had been a truly horrible start to the decade. Little did any of us know what was to come; little did any of us know how soon after that the fires and the floods would seem like nothing but a distant dream.
And then came Covid.
Just a matter of weeks after some of the deadliest fires in Australia’s history had ended, masked faces became the norm once more; though this time for an entirely different reason. What started as a murmur; as an undercurrent to the daily news, soon took force, forcing shops shut to down, social-distancing laws to be enforced and beaches to close. And while seeing Bondi Beach empty for the first time had an eery and sinister feel to it, I soon became so accustomed to it that I now struggle to imagine it ever returning to its bustling and vibrant former self.
It’s funny how quickly we as humans adapt – how swiftly the unthinkable becomes the norm, how we adjust and adapt and alter until the implausible and impossible becomes every day and ordinary.
There is no denying the devastation that has been caused by Covid-19; but living in Bondi – a place that feels safe and spacious and seperate from the turmoil taking place across the rest of the world – feels like more of a bubble than ever. While being in Australia has certainly solidified my love for a country that has thus far escaped from the effects of the virus largely unscathed, it too has reinforced just how very, very far away I am from my loved ones back home.
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